WA needs more kids in trades: Minister Ley

Media Release
  • Assistant Minister for Education

More West Australian school students need the opportunity to take up a first-class career in trades and training if the nation is to tackle current skills shortages, Federal Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley said today.

Ms Ley, who is the Federal Minister responsible for vocational education and training in schools (VETiS), is in Perth today working with a roundtable of WA experts from industry, training, education and government.

She said just 0.7 per cent of those aged 15 to 19 in WA were enrolled in school-based apprenticeships. This is less-than-half the national average, which itself is currently underperforming at 1.5 per cent.

This is despite a range of skills shortages in the state - such as fitters, welders and electricians - impacting the building and mining sector and making employment in trades attractive for WA school leavers.

Ms Ley said the return of a nationally-consistent approach was needed and said she was currently working with the West Australian government to update the national VETiS framework for the first time since 2001.

“It’s no secret we need more tradies in this country, particularly in a state like Western Australia,” Ms Ley said.

“Yet the current national VETiS framework, which is meant to be delivering the next generation of skilled labour, hasn’t been updated in over a decade.

“The fact that only 0.7 per cent of 15-to-19 year olds in Western Australia are enrolled in a school-based apprenticeship shows Labor’s deliberate effort to put university on a pedestal over trades has put Australia’s economic success at risk.

“Our kids need the freedom and support at school to choose a career in the trades without feeling like they’re playing on the ‘B team’ for not deciding to go to uni.

“Unfortunately Labor was so preoccupied with promises of flashy new buildings they failed to see the real focus needs to be on the quality of career advice, training and real-life work experience being offered to our kids.”

Today’s WA roundtable follows the national roundtable Ms Ley hosted in February and other state-based roundtables held in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania.                                                  

“This is no different to building a house - you have to understand the lay of the land before you can build a solid framework,” she said.

Ms Ley said the core of today’s agenda was focused around the need for stronger links between WA schools, employers and trainers, with the role of career guidance and how VETiS programs are delivered in schools also to be discussed.


  Total number of 15-19 year olds Number of school-based apprenticeships (15-19 year olds) % of total number of 15 – 19 year olds
Western Australia 156,630 1,168 0.7%
National 1,453,459 23,027 1.5%

Source: NCVER 2013, Australian vocational education and training statistics: VET in Schools 2012 data tables

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